to enjoy its status as the highest
ranked country in
sub-Saharan Africa
on the 2017 World
Press Freedom Index
compiled by Reporters Without Borders
(RSF). Globally, it has moved down from
17 to 24 out of 180 countries which may
be attributed to the fact that Namibia
still has no freedom of information law
to guarantee citizens and the media access to public information.
The Public Service Act of 1995, which
is the current legislation in place, makes
it difficult to access information held by
the state, as it restricts public servants
from disclosing public information that
should in fact be available.
Prior to coming into office President
Hage Geingob always assured the sector of his commitment towards media
freedom. In a speech at the investor’s
conference in New York in September
2016 the president said,
“As a former freedom fighter, press
freedom is one of the things we
fought for. Even when I was prime
minister the first time, I used to assure one of the stalwart editors in
Namibia that government would
never compromise on the freedom
of the press. Therefore, we will not
rein in on the freedoms of the press.”
These sentiments contradict the behaviour of certain members of the political
leadership of the country who have berated the media in recent months, causing ripples on the surface of a seemingly
smooth and conducive media environment.
President Hage Geingob’s stance is more
difficult to fathom. While he is seen as a


So This is Democracy? 2017

strong advocate of media freedom, he
has on some occasions been critical of
the media.
Overall, the socio-political context remains conducive for free expression in
general, and media freedom in particular.

Unlike other countries on the African
continent, Namibia once again had no
incidents of assault, imprisonment, murder or threats in relation to freedom of
expression in 2017. Media practitioners continued to have the freedom to
investigate and report on public interest
issues. Citizens were able to freely express themselves on issues that directly
or indirectly affect them on social and
mainstream media platforms.
However, it would be remiss if mention
was not made of political leaders inclination, and in particular President Hage
Geingob’s consistent questioning of the
media and civil society’s credibility and
Back in 2016, an article published in The
Namibian on 20 August quoted information minister Tjekero Tweya saying the
Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) will drive the
agenda to create a statutory body “as a
matter of urgency to ensure that the media is held responsible in the event that
they abuse their power to report, write
and broadcast, and make themselves
guilty of defamation and slander of people’s character in public, and get away
with murder. This tendency must come
to an end.”
According to The Namibian the minister had, on earlier occasions, explained
that he was planning the establishment
of a regulatory body tasked to “regulate
and punish the media”.

Select target paragraph3